Monday, May 27, 2013

Screw the Temporal Prime Directive

Hey everyone! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes -- I'm looking forward to trying them out. :)

Katie -- I liked your reworked memory. It may be a bit idealistic, but honestly, I think we need that every once in a while. So that when people point out the idealism and say that it could never happen, we can come back with the challenging, "Why not?" and demand an answer.

My interpretation of this week's post will be brought to you less by a specific childhood memory and more from the fact that my parents are currently moving from Hayesville to BG (per Mom's retirement at the end of the month), so they've been packing up my old room and bringing all the stuff up here for me to go through. Recently, this included my middle school journals. And, hoo, boy, does that need some character rewriting (thus providing the perfect opportunity for Older Me to become a hero). So here we go.


The thirteen-year-old girl sat on her bed, writing in a journal with a pained look on her face. She finished the entry, sighed, and held the book to her heart in a melodramatic fashion, her mind preoccupied as always with the boy who would never look at her that way and the classmates who would never understand her.

When she opened her eyes, there was a strange woman standing at the side of the bed, a stern look on her face. The girl let out a surprised yelp.

"Give me the journal," the woman said in a firm voice, holding out her hand. The girl clutched the journal closer to her chest.

"What? No!" she said immediately. "Who are you? How did you get here?"

"Call me a guardian angel," the woman said, her tone dry. "I'm here to help you immeasurably. Give me the journal."

"I won't!" the girl said defiantly, and the woman sighed and crossed her arms.

"I'm doing you a favor," she said. "It's only going to be a source of embarrassment in the future. You're not going to be able to look at that thing without cringing, let alone read it."

"This is my most prized possession!" the girl tried to argue, but the woman snorted.

"Please," she said. "If it's your most prized possession, then why do you only write in it once every three months, if that?"

The girl looked sullen. "I'm gonna do better this year."

The woman sat on the edge of the bed. "No," she said with a shake of her head. "You're not. You always say that. You never do. Trust me. Give me the journal. And while we're at it, give me the poems, too."

The girl gasped, eyes wide in shock. "How do you know about---"

"I know everything, okay?" was the woman's only reply.

"Who are you?" the girl asked suspiciously.

"Come on, you watch Star Trek. I can't tell you that. Temporal Prime Directive. Also, it'll just give you a headache."

If possible, the girl's eyes went wider. "Are you . . . me?" she asked in a stunned and awed voice. The woman just gave her a look.

"What did I just say?"

"And you're --- engaged??" the girl continued, clearly not listening. "Who is it?? Is it ---?"

"Don't even finish that sentence," the woman warned. "No. It's not. God, no. You don't really have a crush on him, you know."

"Yes I do! I love him!" the girl said fiercely.

"Oh, gag me with a spoon," the woman muttered. "Listen, kid. You're thirteen, and he's a jackass. You know it, you just don't want to admit it. He's not the love of your life. He's not even your best friend, not really. If he was, don't you think he'd do half the things for you that you do for him?"

The girl didn't answer, she just looked down at her hands.

"Exactly," the woman said. "Let him go, for the love of all things holy. You're almost as pathetic about this guy as you were about Michael."

The girl colored. "I don't want to talk about Michael," she said sullenly.

"No, of course you don't," the woman answered, no nonsense. "Because that whole situation is now as monstrously embarrassing to you as this whole situation is to me. I told you. I'm doing you a favor. Just give me the journal. And the notebook. And the secret journal. And the poems."

“Not the poems,” the girl begged. “Please, they’re my heart and soul!”

“Heart and soul?” the woman asked. “Sweetie, you’re writing about unicorns and rainbows. Literally, unicorns and rainbows! You just wrote a poem in the shape of a school bus. I really, really hope that’s not actually your heart and soul.”

"But I want to be a writer," the girl whispered in a tiny voice.

"Yeah," the woman said kindly. "And you will be. But not until you stop writing those syrupy poems and emo-tastic journal entries."

"Emo . . . tastic?" the girl repeated, confused. The woman didn't clarify.

"Trust me on this. You want to write, go for it. But write. Write something substantial. Not about unicorns or melodramatic musings about how no one understands you."

"I'm really going to be a writer?" the girl asked hopefully.

"You're going to write a short story when you're fifteen that wins an award," the woman said, and watched the girl's eyes light up. "Everything you write between now and then is gonna is be crap, and even that story is really only halfway decent, but you'll get there. Sohere." She pulled a purple composition notebook from her bag and tossed it to the girl, who had to drop the blue and yellow journal to catch it. The woman snatched up the journal in a heartbeat.

"Hey!" the girl protested.

"Ah, ah, ah," the woman said, holding it out of reach and pointing at the notebook. "Brand new, nice and blank, just waiting to be filled. Take the ridiculous amount of energy you've been expending toward this," she gestured with the journal to all of the girl, "and put it into that instead. Now, come on. The rest of them. And don't even think of trying to hold out on me. I know what they all look like and where they're all hidden."

A few moments later, the woman held four notebooks in her arms. Grimacing, she loaded them into her bag, then stood, hoisting the bag onto her shoulder. "I've gotta get going. It was nice talking to you."

She turned to go, and that's when the girl cried out, "Wait!" When the woman turned back, the girl was standing there, looking shy and uncertain. Finally, she asked, "Are you sure there's nothing else you can tell me?"

The woman smiled and sighed. "I remember being you so vividly," she said softly. "The only thing I can tell you is a bit of advice, but you're not gonna like it."

"What is it?" the girl asked immediately.

"You know who's doing the most right now to make your life difficult? The person who, more than anyone else, is keeping you from being everything you're capable of?"

"Who?" the girl asked. "Nick? Logan? Kevin?" The woman hid a smile and shook her head.

"No," she said softly. "It's you."

The girl looked stung. "I don't understand," she said. The woman sighed apologetically.

"No," was all she said. "I know you don't. But you will. Trust me. You'll get there, and it'll get better. Oh, and . . . friendly advice?" She hid another smile. "Give Kevin a second chance. You two have more in common than you think."

The girl's look turned murderous. "Kevin?" she repeated with loathing and disdain. The woman laughed.

"Trust me," she said again, and the girl's face suddenly turned horrified.

"If you tell me you're engaged to him---"

The woman cut her off with a raised hand. "Ew. No," she said with conviction. "But he is one of my best friends."

The girl shook her head. "I don't believe you're me. Give me back my journals."

The woman smiled and started to fade. "Not a chance," she said.


"Good luck, Cassie."

And then she was gone.

When the girl wrote her prize-winning short story two years later, she made it about unicorns just to spite her older self.

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